Screenwriter David Ayer claims that he hasn’t benefited from the success of the Fast and the Furious franchise even though he cowrote the first film in the series.
“Biggest franchise in Hollywood and I don’t have any of it,” Ayer, 55, said during a Tuesday, August 22, appearance on Jon Bernthal’s “Real Ones” podcast. “I got nothing to show for it, nothing, because of the way the business works.”
Gary Scott Thompson and Erik Bergquist had written previous drafts of the 2001 action movie starring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, but Ayer said that he changed the film’s setting and made it more diverse.
“When I got that script, that s—t was set in New York, it was all Italian kids, right?” he told Bernthal, 46. “I’m like, ‘Bro, I’m not gonna take it unless I can set it in L.A. and make it look like the people I know in L.A., right?’ So, then I started, like, writing in people of color, and writing in the street stuff, and writing in the culture, and no one knew s—t about street racing at the time.”
Ayer continued: “I went to a shop in the Valley and met with, like, the first guys that were doing the hacking of the fuel curves for the injectors and stuff like that, and they had just figured it out and they were showing it, and I’m like, ‘Oh f—k yeah, I’m gonna put that in the movie.’”
Despite believing he had an indelible effect on the franchise, which has produced 11 films to date and grossed a total of $7 billion, Ayer feels that “the narrative is I didn’t do s—t, right?”
The filmmaker, whose subsequent projects include directing the 2016 superhero film Suicide Squad, then claimed that because he was “always an outsider,” Hollywood executives were able to cast him aside.
“I don’t go to the f—king parties. I don’t go to the meals, I don’t do any of that stuff. The people that did were able to control and manage narratives because they’re socialized in that part of the problem,” he said. “I was never socialized in that part of the problem so I was always, like, the dark, creative dude, beware.”
Ayer’s comments come amid a larger conversation about the treatment of writers in Hollywood. In May, the Writers Guild of America went on strike after negotiations broke down between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) for a new contract.
In their letter to members announcing the strike, the WGA noted that the organization is seeking “fair pay that reflects the value of our contribution to company success and includes protections to ensure that writing survives as a sustainable profession.” The letter also raised concerns about artificial intelligence taking work from writers and the creation of “a gig economy inside a union workforce.”
In July, SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild — American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) also went on strike over an ongoing labor dispute with AMPTP. Legions of stars have since shown their support for the cause by joining the picket lines.